It’s no secret that greens are good for you. Obviously, they’re vegan, vegetarian, and mostly keto-friendly depending on how you prepare them, but they’re also packed with all kinds of nutrition: fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and they make you feel full with hardly any calories. But sticking to the tried-and-true – and often tired – same greens day after day can get old. What’s more, increasing your dietary diversity delivers a greater range of micronutrients and immune-boosting phytochemicals you might not otherwise get. So with spring finally springing, we asked some members of the OVICX team to go out into their local farmers’ markets to try out some spring greens you’ve probably never heard of, but really ought to try.
- Garlic Scapes
These deep green, curly stalks may look like green beans but are actually the flowers of the garlic plant, and harvesting them is a really important part of growing garlic. If you don’t, the plant focuses its energy on growing the flowers so the bulb is left bitty and bland. But cut them in the spring and you not only get the flavorful garlic we all know and love, you get these oniony, scalliony, garlicy greens, too.
Garlic scapes are high in vitamins A and C, antioxidants, and fiber, and have been shown to protect against heart disease and cancer.
You can usually find them at Asian supermarkets or farmers’ markets in the mid- to late-spring and late summer.
They can be eaten raw, but they’re pretty tough, so try using them in stir-fries or as a less powerful alternative to actual garlic.
- Fiddlehead Greens
Fiddlehead greens – which look a lot like the ornamental bit on top of a fiddle (go figure) – are the curled up fronds of a baby fern. They have a super short season – from early April to mid-May – but you can find them in cuisines all around the world and if you find them near you, they’re a treat. They’ve got the snappiness of a green bean, the subtle sweetness of asparagus, and the solid texture of broccoli stem.
Fiddlehead greens pack a ton of potassium, niacin, and vitamin C, are high in fiber and omega-3 and -6, and like all greens are a great source of fiber.
You can find them at some farmers’ markets or specialty grocery stores, but if you want them you’ll have to move fast because of their short season.
When prepping, make sure you wash your fiddlehead greens thoroughly and blanche, steam, braise, roast, or use pretty much any method, but keep it simple. A light vinaigrette or something creamier is really all you need.
A few years ago, ramps seem to be the new trendy green on the scene but they never seemed to gain the popularity of some other greens. Now, though, they look to be back on the high-fashion catwalk. A lot of their popularity comes from their rarity. Their growing season, like fiddlehead greens, it’s extremely short. Also, their typically foraged. They are a wild green with broad, flat leaves and little white bulbs that have a sort of garlic-onion hybrid flavor.
Ramps are low in calories but are nutrient dense, providing a bunch of hard-to-pronounce antioxidants (ever heard of kaempferol or polyphenol?) as well as small amounts of manganese, copper, iron, and folate.
This green is usually only found at farmers’ markets for a limited time every year and has gained a bit of a bad reputation for being unsustainably foraged. Look for ramps that only include the leaf or just a bit of the bulb to make sure you’re buying them from an environmentally conscious provider.
When it comes to cooking, the recipe we at OVICX like best uses the ramp in place of garlic as the base for a pesto.
- Dandelion Greens
That yellow-flowered weed that seems to be the bane of lawns everywhere? Yes, that’s a practical powerhouse of vitamins A, B, C, E, K, and prebiotics! They’re a punchier version of arugula that can make the usual salad a whole lot more flavorful, and you can make them milder with a bit of cooking.
I don’t think we need to tell you where to find this one, but if you prefer to purchase your greens rather than pick them from…wherever, you should be able to find them at farmers’ markets and in some specialty stores. They’re in season throughout the warmer months but are definitely more tender and less bitter in the spring when young.
Toss them in a salad, use them in a pesto, or throw them in a stir-fry; however you cook it up, this overlooked green will give you the fuel you need to plow through your next workout.
It’s springtime. Get out and enjoy it! But when those rainy days come along, we hope you can use some of these forgotten greens to help you power your next OVICX workout.
Any suggestions for recipes? Let the OVICX community know in the comments!